Love: Refreshing Love27 02 13 00:30 by tamr
I thoroughly enjoy new things, even if it isn't entirely pleasant. I like new ideas, new foods, new colors, different clothes (helps being a seamstress here, I'll say that), different books, different places. It feels refreshing to me. I get a mental cabin-fever pretty quickly, so if I don't have something new going on somewhere, I get cranky. And moody. I understand this aspect of me, and I do my best to plan ahead to combat boredom. It's similar to football fans going to a rugby game: sure, it's a game, but it's not football. Dinner this week: not the same things we had last week. Sure, it's a meal, but it's not different. Books I'm reading? Projects I'm working on? Topics I'm thinking about? These all have to change during the week/month. Sure, I could do the same thing every day/every week, but where is the excitement in that?
Case in point: I need a new vegetable to eat, so I got a Costco bag of brussel sprouts. I can't say these are my favorite vegetable...at all...and the whole "steam until withered and drown in butter" theory doesn't work for me either. But I need to conquer this food! So today I tossed the whole bunch of them in olive oil, kosher salt, ground black pepper, basil, parsley, garlic powder and parmesan cheese and baked it at 400F for 40 minutes. I'm not kidding, it was actually really good! I don't know if I can get anyone else in the house to eat them; but between you and me, they were very very tasty.
And different! Total score.
In regards to the topic of refreshing love, I would say that it is very difficult to find refreshing love in environments or relationships that aren't fresh, innovative, creative, heartfelt, meaningful or deliberate. Love grows and changes, and adapts over time. The love Ben and I have now is a very different flavor than what it was 19 years ago. You can't eat the same can of green beans for 19 years...spice it up, be creative, and serve brussel sprouts!
Here is a story I was reading the other day that was interesting:
"Todd Putman, who worked at Coca-Cola from 1997 to 2001, said the goal ( for the company ) became much larger than merely beating the rival brands; Coca-Cola strove to outsell every other thing people drank, including milk and water. The marketing divisions efforts boiled down to one question, Putman said: How can we drive more ounces into more bodies more often?"
How about we say that Coke and Putnam wanted to give love to the world. They had a love product, and they had an audience who loved their product. So it was Putnam's job to find different, better, more effective ways of selling this love to people.
In his capacity, Dunn was making frequent trips to Brazil, where the company had recently begun a push to increase consumption of Coke among the many Brazilians living in favelas. The companys strategy was to repackage Coke into smaller, more affordable 6.7-ounce bottles, just 20 cents each. Coke was not alone in seeing Brazil as a potential boon; Nestlé began deploying battalions of women to travel poor neighborhoods, hawking American-style processed foods door to door. But Coke was Dunns concern, and on one trip, as he walked through one of the impoverished areas, he had an epiphany. A voice in my head says, These people need a lot of things, but they dont need a Coke. I almost threw up.
All of a sudden, you realize that the love you've been selling is expensive, consumerist, financially debilitating and furthermore, it is not healthy for this audience...and it's your job to sell more. What do you do?
You quit. You just walk right out of that company and you realize that love can be refreshing. Love can lift people up. Love can compel people to be happier, live more deliberately, refreshing love can be healthy and add more years to your life. But how?
Refreshing love has got to be creative:
"They ( a huge company ) recently hired Dunn to run one of their newest acquisitions a food producer in the San Joaquin Valley. As they sat in the hotels meeting room, the men listened to Dunns marketing pitch. He talked about giving the product a personality that was bold and irreverent, conveying the idea that this was the ultimate snack food. He went into detail on how he would target a special segment of the 146 million Americans who are regular snackers mothers, children, young professionals people, he said, who keep their snacking ritual fresh by trying a new food product when it catches their attention....
The snack that Dunn was proposing to sell: carrots. Plain, fresh carrots. No added sugar. No creamy sauce or dips. No salt. Just baby carrots, washed, bagged, then sold into the deadly dull produce aisle.
We act like a snack, not a vegetable, he told the investors. We exploit the rules of junk food to fuel the baby-carrot conversation. We are pro-junk-food behavior but anti-junk-food establishment.
He is still in the business of love, and he has learned how to sell love for many years. But his love is creative, it is healthy, it is a deliberate idea and it lifts people up. It is creative, refreshing love.
So how do you find refreshing love in your life? This is really harder than it sounds, especially if you're already in a rut. Tony Robbins has a great 6 point idea that explains the different things people need to be happy and fulfilled in life:
Certainty: Some people need that Certainty that they can avoid pain and have comfort or pleasure. How do people get certainty? Example 1: Work Really Hard to Master Something So There is No Uncertainty That YOU Are the Best! Example 2: Lower Your Expectations. If youre certain that it wont work anyway you satisfy this need. My Side: I am certain that I have a marriage and a home, and our lifestyle is absolutely set. Ben works and I stay home and teach the kids. I completely rely on this Certainty to give me stability in my life.
Uncertainty: We Need Variety to Feel Alive. How do people get variety? Anything that changes your state. Different Foods, a new book, having a conversation with someone new.My Side: Uncertainty for me is weekend trips to the coast or exploring trips to the forests. Mixing things up for dinner, or starting a new television show with Ben. Painting the walls, planting new things in the garden, meeting new people
Significance: To Feel Unique, Important, and Special. EVERYONE has these needs, but what Beliefs about how to meet this need? Example 1: Serving and making a difference in the world Example 2: DominatingMy Side: Significance is extremely important to me. If I don't feel like my work, my love, my words, my time or my efforts are significant at all, I give up completely. It is important to me to have a purpose in my day/projects, and if there is no purpose, then I feel worthless. Now, this doesn't give me the leverage to be an attention seeking diva; for the most part, it is important to wisely pick your work so that it reflects the values you believe in, and to do the work as best as you can unselfishly. But I also need to know that what I am doing is for a purpose, for a reason and someone will appreciate it somehow.
Connection: Love is in our DNA. Do you meet the need for connection in Neutral ways, Negative Ways, or Empowering Ways.
My Side: Connection is pretty important to me. I am not happy just showing up and leaving, and never connecting with someone. I need to connect with the kids and with Ben every day. I absolutely don't need to be around crowds...let me correct that: I avoid crowds. But I need to connect with individuals in order to feel fulfilled.
These 4 are the Needs of the Personality EVERYONE FINDS a Way to meet the first 4 Needs in someway but Not Everyone Meets the Last 2. The Ultimate Needs.
Growth: Everything in the world is growing or dieing. Its a constant process ocuring in life. Reason that we grow is to satisfy the next Need
Contribution: We GROW so we have something to give. What makes you feel alive is to know its MORE than just you. You are making a meaningful impact on others.
It is absolutely crucial in life to keep love refreshed.
Last Day of School!31 05 12 21:38 by tamr
Ben may or may not attest to this.
But I did write "Last Day of School" on the calendar, and Nova noticed that it was TODAY. They were pretty excited that they didn't have to do spelling at 9, as is our routine, and promptly got into their bathing suits and headed outside into our inflatable pool. Thank goodness for SPF 50+ sunscreens, because it's the afternoon and they are STILL in there. I will say, Conrad and Eve went down for a nap pretty easily after 4 hours of pool time and lunch :)
Between you and me, I will miss doing school. I truly enjoy finding new things to discover and different ways to learn math. This morning I gave the kids bananas with whipped cream for breakfast, and the bananas were a little squishy. Nova said, "I have a hypothesis to why they are squishy!" I assure you, my heart sang after hearing these words.
Yet, in the same way that it is essential for the kids to have a break, it is equally as important for me to get into a different creative gear. I am loving watching the kids come up with all their different games outside, figuring out how to turn into turtles, how to get the bugs and grass out of the pool, how to form alliances, etc. I love watching the act of play, and I am so enormously grateful we are raising our kids to know how to do this on their own; without structured organization, or categorizations of time. Just random child's play using their imaginations, and oftentimes a stick. I have no qualms against video games, since we are a bit of a gaming family; but it just seems like there is a crucial mineral children recover outside when they find adventures in their backyards.
I, on the other hand, have been holed up behind my cluttered desk sipping water and coffee and exploring a list of crafting projects I didn't have time for during the school year. For instance, I would love a 50s dress...but ModCloth is just a little too pricey for me. So I got some old maternity dresses I made last summer and tore them apart, and I'm building a new dress. It is going to be EPIC. With RUFFLES.
I also have wanted to try my hand at quilling for a long time, but never had a reason. So the other day at Michael's, I bought a pack of groovy scrapbooking paper and printed maps of places we have been onto tissue paper. I put the maps on the groovy paper, and I have them hanging on the wall next to the stairs...and I'm making little quilling flowers to go around the maps for decoration. It's SO MUCH FUN, and I am so glad I have a vacation during which to do this!
And although I will miss the progress of school, I would hate to look back on a summer of opportunity and realize that I spent the whole summer doing school or work, when I so easily had the ability to do something else that I no longer had time for. I think this is the most important part of summer vacation for teachers: really, take a break. Go explore something, and come back to school in a month or two with invigorated energy, and self-fulfillment on your side.
The Rope Bridge of Homeschooling26 05 12 16:53 by tamr
The funny thing, at least for me, is that I have been reading "The Element" and "Out of Our Minds" by Sir Ken Robinson for a while now, and they are both just absolutely the most riveting books to read. The thing is, this is my element: learning. I love to learn and I love to pass on the learning through education and writing.
I remember exactly when I realized what I wanted to do this for the rest of my life when my family was camping one summer. Our dad was sitting on the back of his truck, and we had gotten distracted from unloading it and ended up listening to him tell us about WWI leading up to WWII. It was just absolutely fascinating stuff to me, and that is when I discovered that I wanted to know everything. Not in a "powerful Wizard of Oz" way, because I can assure you that I will never understand electricity the way Ben and Glenn do. But I just wanted to keep discovering until I could find nothing left to discover. That's why I read so much, this is why we explore crazy places, this is why our trip to Beijing was the most incredible experience: there was SO much to discover and learn. My degree in Literature enabled me to learn about societies, from the point of view of the people, which barely reach the surface of understanding today. Okay, I'm going off on a tangent here...
So when Robinson was describing how this one dancer, Gillian, came into her element when she entered a dancing school and saw every other girl there who couldn't keep still and had to keep moving in order to maintain themselves, I completely understood. This is how I feel every time I read about another learning system, or a new curriculum, or I discuss styles with other educators. I LOVE education. It is just the most fascinatingly amazing thing in the world to me. I could talk about the strategies of Aristotle, of Waldorf, of the theories of Classical vs. Traditional vs. Modern Thinking...I find them all just amazing.
Recently I have been up to my ears trying to fully understand The Blue School, which is rather difficult since it is in New York and I am out here in CA.
There are a number of obstacles with understanding The Blue School though: foremost, I think, is that the people running it are from Harvard and Ivy League universities. My degree is from a podunk state university. Now, while this isn't the end of the world, I will say that the mentality of Harvard is quite different (yes, I realize this is kind of an understatement, but stay with me). The people who graduate from my university talk about going on to teaching, going into the Peace Corps., going into small businesses, etc. We're thinking workers.
However, in higher universities, such as Harvard, it is typical to instill the thought of making the world a better place by giving. Give your money if you are rich (see: Bill Gates), give your gifts if you have gifts (see: FDR and his ability to instill hope during the Depression). You can see a list of Harvard graduates here and get an idea as to what these people hoped to get out of life: giving something to the world to make it a better place. This is seriously overgeneralizing the point I am trying to make, so just keep reading; I don't want to go down a rabbit trail of what every graduate from Ivy League schools have or have not accomplished. I just wanted to point out that the mentality is "society" instead of "individuals." They leave with a bigger picture of how the world is run, and how they can participate in running it; as opposed to my position, which is happily "individual."
So with that said, The Blue School is the crux of Modern Education.
Just a quick perspective on why this is interesting: Classical Education (at least from an American point of view) ranges from Colonialism-1810. You learned Latin, Greek, Literature, Math...but specifically it has a system of Trivium where there is the level of Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric (basically, Elementary school, Jr. High and High school). Then there is Traditional Education, which is essentially the one-room schoolhouse idea; but the lessons start moving away from Classical education in Latin, and more towards applicable subjects. Finally, around 1910 came Modern Education, and this was much more pragmatic in structure. Kids needed a more pragmatic education in order to learn how to be functional citizens post-Industrial Revolution, and education helped this idea along. This makes sense to me. If a student is schooled in Latin and Literature, how will they be able to work in a factory when they graduate? Not very well. So Modern Education supplemented where Classical and Traditional Education left gaping holes.
The thing about today, though, is that there aren't many factories to participate in anymore (unless you count public education, which is a valid argument, I think). So we're back to educating for ideas. This is where The Blue School comes in. They want their students to really explore their minds through education, through art, through creativity, and come out the other side with a bigger idea of the world than any textbook could offer them. But it is thickly Modern Education: society over individual, creativity over Latin, self-expression over "the right answer." Kind of. Big sweeping generalities here.
So, I just finished a 3 day event in a Classical Education forum, and it was pretty awesome but completely different from The Blue School. The direction they want to take the kids is fantastic, the bar is really high and the kids are collaborating in a group to achieve academic goals...while still homeschooling. It is FAN-TASTIC. I love it. But there is a lot of Kool-Aid to drink.
I am not a Kool-Aid drinker. Even when I lead Kool-Aid groups, or am a member of Kool-Aid communities, I just swirl it around in the glass the whole time. I just can't jump in that far...because it's ridiculous. I think Classical Education is great, no two ways about it. I am looking forward to teaching my kids both pragmatic and Classical education, so they have a good balance between thinking and doing. But do I think Dewey killed education, and we should go back 300 years in educational learning?
No. This is the dumbest thing I've heard....well, the second dumbest thing I've heard so far. The absolute dumbest thing was that our daughters don't need higher education because they were designed to be helpers, and only our sons really needed the higher education because they would actually be working.
No, I didn't laugh my way out of the auditorium. But I took a big huge note never to interact with that woman's group ever again. wow.
Ok, so this whole "300 years ago was so much better!"idea is just absurd. 300 years ago, I wouldn't be able to teach anything. Heck, even 100 years ago women weren't allowed in University libraries unchaperoned. 300 years ago we were still trying to figure out how to start a nation and farm the land. 300 years ago we didn't have the internet, we didn't have cars, we didn't have telephones, we didn't have freaking pavement on the streets. So teaching our kids now in the same way kids were taught 300 years ago is a good idea? Really?
But what about the Blue School idea? Do I really buy into the extreme education of self-pacing/student-directed education? Ehh, not so much. A little, but not so much. On one hand, students really do get to pick what they learn, and the instructors help augment the lessons to hit every subject. I love this idea, and we're doing this now actually. We had a huge unit on The Universe, and it included constellations, biographies, writing about what we've discovered, etc, etc. But it is applicable on a very, very small scale. Just for an example: the Khan Academy, which is also totally awesome, had a little experiment in Oakland. 6th graders were given self-directed math lessons for a few months, and the instructors checked the results afterward. The kids did SIGNIFICANTLY worse when they were self-taught...because they didn't care. In the public school system, students are motivated to get through the tests. "Will this be on the test?" if not, then who cares. And that's what Khan discovered: if kids didn't need to be tested on something, their motivation to learn was gone. So they just breezed through the math and retained none of it.
Now, this is a systematic problem and not an academic problem. The problem is in the culture of the school, which is why The Blue School started with pre-school kids and moved up from there, as opposed to starting with Jr. High kids and tried to re-engineer learning then. It just wouldn't work.
But for us homeschoolers, how about we realize that we are in the middle of a societal revolution, and start teaching accordingly. There needs to be a balance between technology and textbooks, between individualism and society, between Latin and learning German, between academics and pragmatism. We need to learn from the masters, and see what is and isn't working in Modern and Classical forums, and pass on these lessons to our own kids.
Less Kool-Aid, more re-discovering hydration in general.
Golden Light15 02 12 16:39 by tamr
(I wish I knew how to format html better...there are actually blocks of text in here.)
When I dance
I dance in golden light.
My feet linger in the illuminated path
feeling the warmth penetrate all the way
up to my heart, and out of my mouth in song.
I found my dance in the shadow of my mother,
who gave me the gift of Godâs light.
My dance was not always this way.
This golden light did not always beam
so generously upon my face.
I had already lived numerous, countless years
turning in my shoes of vanity
spinning in the light I could only see during the day.
This was not due to the turning of the Earth,
which could easily go on turning without me...
The world was simply dark
before my eyes grew accustomed to the light.
When I was a girl,
I wore my motherâs dancing shoes.
They were older, and worn, and beige.
They were the only shoes she had to wear
when she went out, beautifully, with my dad.
As I became a woman of my own,
my heart desired the beauty I saw in my mother.
The lavender grace that went before her through doors.
I bought colorful shoes, thinking they would usher me
through similar doors of grace;
dancing their way through life in shades of pink.
I wore them all through my days,
my years of dancing in the world:
the slow waltz of school,
the lazy serenade of romance,
the busy foxtrot of church,
and the confusing tango of me.
None of these shoes gave me the light
my mother possessed when she moved.
Nothing I could see
could shine so goldenly.
I had to remember before my dancing days
when I could still see the golden rays
bouncing off of daffodils and dandelions;
lighting the rooms, the world, my eyes
with the splendor of Heaven,
and the grace of His Spirit.
This was the light that surrounded my mother,
it was a light that could not come from any other.
I remember when I put my dyed dancing shoes away,
and finally felt the warm green grass again
on my cold bare feet,
which had been hidden away
in too many shoes.
I remembered how warm
was Godâs light on my face
when I looked away from the world,
and looked up...
I-Can't-Believe-It-Worked-Baked Beans29 08 11 05:04 by tamr
What about baked beans? I haven't bought baked beans in ages because it just doesn't last that long. One can can feed about two people for lunch...and although that is a great deal economically, it just doesn't get much bang for the buck in my opinion.
So I looked up the recipe online, and I found one that didn't involve any canned foods. You know the recipes that say "made from scratch" but they use canned beans, canned chili, canned soup? That's not from scratch, that's from a can. I want to make dinner from SCRATCH baby.
So here is what I did....and it isn't going to be the same process I will use next time, but this will give you an idea of how easy this recipe is.
First, the ingredients I was supposed to use were these:
1 cup dried navy beans
4 cups water
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
1 small onion, chopped
However, I didn't have everything I needed. And I am a little too busy to do all the "Cover, and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C), and cook 6 hours longer" kind of stuff. So here is what I did:
I took a bag of navy beans, 1/2 cup of lentils and 1/2 cup of split peas (just for some variety in flavor and texture. Why not?). Boiled them for an hour in a pot of water until the top was very frothy....this breaks down the beans and you don't get gas. Yes, this really works. You could also soak them in a covered pot of water overnight, but I was in a rush.
So you drain and rinse the beans, then throw them in a crockpot and add 1 chopped yellow onion, garlic powder, kosher salt (Cheers, Alton Brown), pepper and maybe a little paprika or chili powder (just a little). Then take a pork roast and throw it in the middle. Go ahead...just throw it in. Now cook for the day, and you should be ready for the next step.
Here is where I deviated. That night we were just bushed, and it was a long day and we needed to get out of the house. So I just turned the crockpot on low and we went out to chinese food. We came home and I put the food in a bowl and put the bowl in the freezer. Because that was the only place that I had room enough for this sucker. Two days later I got the courage to take the bowl out and defrost it. So this is how I finished the recipe:
You spoon the beans and onions into a huge sauce pan (not a pot). I had a ton of beans, and I actually filled 3 mason jars for later use (and put in the fridge). I then realized that we are out of ketchup. No worries! I put in a can of tomato paste and some white vinegar instead. Then I added 4 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons molasses (except I didn't have molasses, so I used honey), 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (I might have added more...I just kept pouring), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon chili powder.
First I boiled all the beans in the saucepan to get them going. Then I put them in a silicone bread pan (it was the only thing I had clean) and baked it for about 20 minutes or so. In the meantime, I put the pork in the pan with a little bit of the beans, and just heated it up a bit.
But here's the thing: when all was said and done, they were the best tasting baked beans I have ever had. They were just PHENOMENAL. And I could eat about 1/2 cup of them, along with a small piece of pork. They were just astoundingly filling! It always amazes me how much more filling actual food is. I don't know what manufacturers do to their food, but food from scratch is hearty. Seriously hearty. And this is coming from a heavily pregnant woman. Plus, a 7 year old, a 6 year old, a 2 year old and a 14 month old ate every bite I gave them. And Ben LOVED it.
So that's what I did! It is an amazing recipe, and I would encourage anyone to try this!
Good Night, Mr. Brown27 08 11 16:58 by tamr
His series, "Feasting on Asphalt," was equally amazing. I loved seeing where he ended up, and what he ended up eating. My favorite shows were when he was touring the South and getting in biscuit arguments with people.
"This lovely woman doesn't think I know what a biscuit is...EVEN THOUGH I GREW UP IN THE SOUTH."
"Honey, you don't know a biscuit from a dumpling."
I'm pretty sure there were wrestling matches when the camera was off.
To Alton Brown: We Salute You! (and thank you for all the recipes!!!)
ALTON BROWN FACTS
#1. Alton Brown grinds his own peppercorns. With his teeth.
#2. Alton Brown's chili cheese fries are healthier than raw carrots. Even after he adds the bacon and lard.
#3. Alton Brown brushes his teeth with wasabi and gargles with pickle brine. But still his breath smells like lemon merengue.
#4. Alton Brown can boil a three-minute egg in thirty-seven seconds.
#5. When Alton Brown was born, he collected the hospital slop they'd left for his mother and made it into an zesty, appetizing goulash. The dish fed the entire maternity ward for a week.
#6. In the first, as-yet-unaired episode of Iron Chef America, Alton Brown single-handedly defeated an all-star team of Bobby Flay, Cat Cora, and Hiroyuki Sakai. The secret ingredient was 'whimsy'.
#7. Alton Brown doesn't reduce sauces. He demoralizes sauces.
#8. Alton Brown prepares his fugu blindfolded, with one chopstick and a plastic spork. Alton Brown ain't afraid of no chump neurotoxin.
#9. Alton Brown's blender has four speeds: 'stir', 'mix', 'frappe', and 'plasmify'.
#10. Alton Brown can split a pineapple in half using only his pinkies. For coconuts, though, he has to use his thumbs.
#11. Alton Brown knows where capers come from. And he grows his own, on a Chia pet in the pantry.
#12. On Rachel Ray's show, she shows people where to eat for less than forty dollars a day. When Alton Brown eats, people pay him.
#13. Alton Brown slices ham so thin, it can only be seen using an electron microscope.
#14. Some knives can slice through a tin can and still cut a tomato. Alton Brown's knives can slice through a Pontiac, and still cut a tin can.
#15. Grown men have been known to weep for joy in the mere presence of Alton Brown's vinagrette. His hollandaise sauce can kill a man from sheer ecstacy at forty paces.
#16. Alton Brown can eat just one Lay's potato chip. If he ever bothered to eat food he didn't make himself, that is.
#17. Alton Brown once got carried away slicing carrots, and julienned his cutting board. Undaunted, he sauteed the splinters in olive oil and spices --and they were delicious.
#18. Every Burger King Alton Brown has walked into has immediately closed forever --try as they might, they simply can't 'do it his way'.
#19. Alton Brown can pair a wine with any food --including hot dogs, ice cream, raw eggs, Alpo, sawdust, and soylent green.
#20. Alton Brown's cakes don't rise. They ascend.
#21. Some meats are so tender, they seem to melt in your mouth. Alton Brown's meats are so tender, he's had entire turkeys vanish into thin air.
#22. Alton Brown's no saint. But if his chicken Kiev cures one more kid's leprosy, the church will reconsider the evidence.
#23. Alton Brown doesn't whip potatoes. Alton Brown's potatoes whip themselves, if they know what's good for them.
#24. Alton Brown's other car is the Wienermobile.
#25. Alton Brown's show is called 'Good Eats', because 'Multiple Shuddering Mouthgasms' didn't play with the network's target demographic.
#26. Alton Brown's freezer operates at minus-twenty-seven degrees. Kelvin.
#27. Alton Brown once prepared shrimp gumbo for a cooking competition, using only salt, water, canned Spam, and a packet of Arby's 'Horsey Sauce'. He took second place. He would have won, but one of the judges was allergic to shellfish.
#28. Alton Brown can fit three hundred and forty-two cookies on a standard-sized baking sheet. Without any touching.
#29. When Alton Brown slices onions, the onions cry.
#30. Alton Brown was once asked to participate in a blind orange juice taste test. He was the only person able to successfully identify the brand, style, vintage, temperature, pH level, distance to the orchard, age of the grove trees, and the names of the workers picking the fruit. Including the one who needs to start washing after bathroom breaks.
Going Gluten Free II15 07 11 16:34 by tamr
So here is the updated version!
The first thing she needs to know is that everything pre-made has wheat/gluten in it. Be prepared to become the crazy lady reading labels on everything in the store, because that will become your life. You'll start finding it in things that really shouldn't have any wheat in it, and you'll yell at boxes going "why are they putting wheat in rice/salad dressing/yogurt?!" And it's because it is not only a filler and a thickener, but it adds some nutrients to foods that don't have much nutritional value. It's a big commercial thing, and it's cheap. So start reading labels. Even a little bit of wheat/gluten will affect you. Like soy sauce: you are going to have to find a gluten free soy sauce. Salad dressings: you are going to have to avoid caesar salads like it is death (seriously, my worst reaction was on a freaking caesar salad). So start checking everything, even if you think you're sure. Chocolate, ice cream, cereal (even corn flakes), juice, yogurt, bread (obviously), noodles, rice...if it comes in a bag, a box or a bottle, you have to double check.
The second most important thing she's going to be battling is her habits. People like to eat what is familiar to them, and when you have to change that drastically, it sucks. Food and eating is part of our lives and part of our culture, and having to re-learn this is annoying on a day-to-day bit, but it also throws us off our personal heritage enough to bug us. She's going to both give up and re-learn eating, and for a while it's a pain in the neck. I'm used to it by now, but for the first few months you're just constantly reminded of what is forbidden, and that gets old fast. Nothing breaded, nothing fried, no doughnuts, no pizza, no regular noodles, no normal hamburgers, no corndogs, no sandwiches. She can give GF bread a shot (tapioca starch/flour makes the best texture), and there are a few brands out there that make really good GF stuff (write these down: Pamelas, Amy's and Namaste are the BEST. Betty Crocker also has GF cookie mix/cake mix/brownie mix which taste normal, and Bisquick now has a GF box which is amazing for scones, biscuits, etc.). But she's going to have to replace these substitutes for what she's used to. That just takes patience, and it takes about 2 or 3 weeks to really get the hang of it.
Also, just a side warning: she is going to get hungry more often, which isn't a side effect of anything. She is removing the foods that fill and expand, and hunger is going to be surprising. Make sure she thinks of her meals as a balance of foods that nourish and foods that fill. So, rice and potatoes are very helpful in that area. Snacks are also very helpful, and I usually had high protein snacks like nuts or apples around. She probably already knows this, but filling a hungry stomach which is already being deprived of food that it is used to with sugar/junk is just going to make you feel like crap. Avoid this, because it is just a slippery slope. Fresh food is the best option to good health.
So, I've been doing 100% gluten free for about 7 years now, and my methods are different than other people's methods at this point. I make just about everything from scratch, because I got absolutely sick of surprises. The book I use toÂ make anything gluten free is "The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods" by Bette Hagman. She has a few other books that I'm going to be getting, but this is THE BEST resource. You use her recipes for mixes to make everything in the book; so I have 5 big jars in my cupboard with her "potato bread" mix, "sourdough bread" mix, "featherlight" mix. From these I can make cakes, scones, muffins, bread, rolls, hamburger buns, pot pie dough, etc. But the biggest thing for me is that even though it costs a little bit to buy all the different flours and starches to make the mixes, they will last you all year. This is much more economical than buying a $7 bag of french bread mix. I can't recommend this highly enough.
As for noodles: rice noodles are horrible. They are gray and they get soggy and fall apart. Unless you are covering them with something that will make them taste okay, they're not really worth it. You have to try them first, of course, to see this. However: corn noodles and quinoa noodles are the best. Corn noodles are great for spaghetti, hands down. Quinoa noodles are great for anything else, including cold pasta salad. Both of these hold their shape and taste good. Feel free to try out stuff on the gluten free aisle, including Amy's pizza (even though a small one is freaking $12). It's okay, but I still haven't made a pizza that tastes like a pizza. I've made my own crust, and if you add a TON of oil under and on top, it gets a pretty good pizza crust.
For recipes: my best advice is to start with meals you already cook and just remove the wheat portion. Replace bread with corn tortillas or lettuce wraps. You can use store bought bread, but that will be a one-time thing. No one can stomach the cement that is store bought GF bread. Oats are a gray area, because biologically oats don't grow gluten. However: they are so thoroughly contaminated from both the field and the processing, that I avoid it completely. Bob's Red Mill has gluten free oats that are good though, and you can make oatmeal or whatever from those.
I think that's about all I can think of! Mostly when you're first starting out I would say, give yourself time to adjust. It might seem daunting on some days, but once you get used to a new rhythm, you'll see that it's really not that complicated.
Good luck :)
Austerity30 06 11 05:25 by tamr
So I really wanted to understand "austerity" better, because it's one of those almost-abstract words that I get the idea of, but since I've never witnessed it I don't fully understand. Wikipedia was very helpful:
"In economics, austerity is a policy of deficit-cutting, lower spending, and a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided. Austerity policies are often used by governments to reduce their deficit spending while sometimes coupled with increases in taxes to pay back creditors to reduce debt. Austerity was named the word of the year by Merriam-Webster in 2010." (which is saying something for global finance and economics in 2010)
So what are some reasons for pulling the austerity rope?
"Austerity measures are typically taken if there is a threat that government cannot honor its debt liabilities. Such a situation may arise if a government has borrowed in foreign currencies which they have no right to issue or they have been legally forbidden from issuing their own currency. In such a situation banks may lose trust in government's ability and/or willingness to pay and refuse to roll over existing debts or demand exorbitant interest rates. In such situations, inter-governmental institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) typically come in and demand austerity measures in exchange for functioning as a lender of last resort. When the IMF requires such a policy, the terms are known as 'IMF conditionalities'.
Okay, so that's the scoop. Greece is really going under because of its socialist welfare state, and just isn't generating enough money inside to support itself financially, and is financing its system with borrowed cash. If you understand the economics of this better than I do (which I can already say, you do), don't flame me in comments :D
But here's the thing that threw me for a loop:
Examples of austerity
California, 2011
Czech Republic, 2010
Woah woah woah......what is CALIFORNIA doing on the LIST?! We passed an AUSTERITY BUDGET TODAY?! wth??
shit. Seriously. For all the technical geniuses and innovation, universities, world-knows hospitals and medical experts, not to mention Hollywood and the gigantic money-making machine it is.....California should be swimming in gold plated pools and driving on diamond studded roads. And it just passed an austerity budget. That's just great.
(for the record, it was inevitable and we've all seen this coming. It just is astonishing to see California on the same list of nations with austerity budgets)